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Mahindra Thar CRDe refreshed - First Impression

Introduction

Mahindra has been building jeeps in India since decades, starting from the Willy’s CJ3B to the CL350, the MM550Di, the Classic and now the Thar. When launched in December 2010, the Thar carried forward the legacy of the classic jeep design we all have grown up loving. The ‘upgraded’ Thar as they call it – sticks to its roots of simplicity of design and minimal electronics – but aims at extending its appeal to the evolving tastes of India. We laid our hands on the machine in its favourite hunting ground – Mahindra’s Off-road Academy in Igatpuri – for a very short time to find out if it can manage to do it.

Looks

The Thar looks signature jeep – a vertically slatted square-ish grill flanked by the round chrome ringed headlamps – from the front, not a big difference from the previous car. The thick black front bumper now sweeps up towards the flared wheel arches trying to give it a modern touch. The high-mounted tapered hood with the classic bonnet locks and the upright windshield along with its tiny wiper blades take you down memory lane. The only changes on the side are the redesigned side step and the canopy with a tilted back giving it a ‘Wrangler’ like look. You move towards the back and everything is familiar except for the reworked rear bumper. 

The changes start to show when you haul yourself up into the driving seat. The dashboard is now much more civilised, dressed in beige and black and now comes with a lockable glove box. It gets new round AC vents with chrome accents that are much more usable than their predecessors. The dashboard also gets a provision to slot in a 2-DIN music system. The new three spoke steering wheel has much better grip and feels premium. The gear lever has also been redesigned. 

The three-pod instrument cluster has come a long way from the dated unit of the previous Thar with an analog tachometer and two electronic trip meters. The door trims are also beige and houses a small armrest. The seats have been redesigned and feel more comfortable and classy with the black leather finish. The floor mount now has four cup holders and a 12V power outlet to cater to the power hungry smartphone generation. The rear gets the standard side-facing benches that would be comfortable for a maximum of two people along with luggage.

Looking at the changes, the new Thar feels much better to be in than the older car if it does not look any better.

 

Performance

The Thar CRDe inherits the same 2.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine from the outgoing car. The trusted oil burner has not been tweaked and churns out 105bhp and 247Nm of torque while complying with the BS4 emission norms. The engine has the typical diesel clutter but being a jeep owner you won’t mind it much. The engine has loads of torque and when you slot it to the low 4x4 ratio through the Bob Warner transfer case, it has enough meat to pull you out of deep ditches or climb over steep inclines without missing as much as a beat. The gearbox is smooth and slots easily but the gear throw is quite a bit as always and if you have the handbrake pulled up, it will now hit it if you try to slot into 2nd, 4th or reverse.  Most off-roaders in India swear by the off-road capabilities of the Thar facilitated by the approach angle of 44° and departure angle of 27° and a ground clearance of 200mm. The Thar now gets a mechanical rear locking differential to help you get out of sticky situations – something that we saw as one of the cars veered off-track into a ditch and was driven out.

 

The clutch is light but the pedal rubber is too small – especially when you expect the drivers to wear big mountain boots and drive it off road – causing wet soles to slip off. Even the side-step, sans the rubber grips, is very slippery when it is wet. The cars we were driving were equipped with the Maxxis Bighorn tyres for the off-roading session and since we drove it only at the Igatpuri off-roading Academy, I cannot really comment on its braking prowess or handling characteristics. The engine braking and control, though, is phenomenal as the car descends the steep and slippery slopes.  All you have to do is trust the machine and steer it without even bothering to touch the clutch or brakes or the accelerator.

The Thar seems to be quite a package when it comes to off-roading and we would like to tell you how it feels on road when we get to test it over tarmac and real life situations.

 

Verdict

The Thar CRDe with its new interior and changes, has been built to appeal to the lifestyle segment of the Indian automotive market, wanting to reach out to people that have an affinity to adventure. If you are an off-roading enthusiast, you already have limited choice – with the only other option being the Force Gurkha. The Thar, in this perspective, is a more rounded product and much lighter, making it easy to manoeuvre or winch. The simple design and minimal electronics and a sturdy build makes it quite reliable and in other cases – easily repairable. The addition of the mechanical rear diff lock has improved its capabilities. The Thar now packs quite a punch – retro looks, an off-road prodigy and almost unbreakable – and will carry you from point A to point B – road or no road.

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Mahindra Thar Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 11.49 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 11.81 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 11.3 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 11.38 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 11.22 Lakhs onwards
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